News & Opinions

Can Cyber Nurse alleviate the nursing skills crisis?
05 December 2007

The nursing skills shortage makes headlines in the SA media almost weekly, and it's too much to expect a web site to solve the country's nursing crisis.

But the Cyber Nurse service can make things much, much better.
"South Africa has been losing more nurses than it trains and this puts enormous pressure on hospitals. This emphasises the need for what we call 'agency nurses'," says Cyber Nurse founder Ken Ford.

Ford has been in the healthcare industry for over 25 years and consults in hospital development all over the world.
Agency nurses are typically permanently employed at a hospital, but in their free time, work additional shifts at other hospitals to supplement their income by making themselves available through regional agencies.

"This is a lucrative market for professional nurses, particularly in specialised units, such as ICUs, where specialised skills come at a premium because of the desperate shortage of those skills in the country," he says.
Still, hospitals and other care institutions really battle to find those agency nurses who are able and willing to work an extra shift or two.

Part of the problem is that there around 130 nursing agencies in South Africa, and most of those are regionally based. This means that a nurse is registered to an agency in, say Benoni.
She may be willing and able to work a shift on Saturday night and may be prepared to travel to Sandton. The problem is that the Sandton hospital phones the Sandton agencies and she isn't registered at any of those. The nurse loses an opportunity to earn a bit of money, and the hospital is short-staffed for that shift.

Because Cyber Nurse is national, the nurse is notified of the shift in Sandton, even though she usually works in Benoni. It's up to her to make the decision there and then whether she wants to travel to Sandton. If she does, that means the hospital, the nurse -- and the patients -- are better off.
Not only that, but because Cyber Nurse is fully IRP 30 compliant, the nurse can claim her travelling expenses back from tax, which can effectively puts around R25 more per shift in her pocket.

At the moment, Ford says South Africa is losing more nurse than it trains. But at least with Cyber Nurse, hospitals can find the nurses who have stayed behind.
And because it's Internet-based, South African nurses around the world can see the kind of money local care institutions are prepared to pay for them to come home.